Monday, December 14, 2009

Burning Bushes

Erupting Volcano at the MirageImage by Bertrand Duperrin via Flickr

Many of our lives follow routines. We sometimes feel that we are doing the same things over and over again. Get up, go to work. Take the kids to school. Run the errands. Do the housework. Cook some meals. There are special things thrown in, appointments or activities that we look forward to, but often our days fall in patterns that may begin to feel monotonous. And sometimes we begin to feel some discontent, some disappointment. Is this my life? If this what it will always be?

But the reality is that every day of our lives will be utterly unique. This moment that you are living right now and the opportunities inherent in it will never come again in just the same way. The same is true for the next moment and the next. And each of them carries the possibility of the Divine bursting in at any moment. I believe this to be absolutely true and it makes me want to do all I can to stay awake and to be ready for that possibility.

So today, on a day that was both exactly like and utterly unlike all of the days that had proceeded it, I was following my usual routines, doing my usual “stuff” around the house, when I got a phone call from a faith-based charitable organization that I work with requesting that I drop off an emergency food package to a “neighbor” (we call them neighbors in keeping with Jesus’ exhortation to love our neighbor) who was in a place of need. My schedule was open so I was able to say yes.

Later, in the car, I was thinking about the compassion and generosity of the people who had provided this 6 or 7 large bags of food that I was privileged to transport, when a young man waiting at a bus stop caught my eye. I could tell by his facial features that he had Downs’ Syndrome and he was dressed in the uniform of the carry out persons that work at our local grocery stores so I knew that he must be on his way to work. He was waiting alone and I was impressed by his independence and grateful for the opportunities that are afforded people with disabilities. My mind registered these observations and thoughts, but there were two things that were much more remarkable about this young man. The first was that he was dancing! He had ear buds stuck in his ears and was moving to some music that I could nothear, but have wished many times since to have been able to listen along with him. The other thing was his face. His face was turned upwards to the sky and it contained such a look of pure joy as I have rarely seen on any human face, even on that of a young child. I wish that I could paint a better picture of this, maybe you can imagine it along with me.

Immediately, my spirit and my body reacted. Sobs and laughter spilled from my chest and my throatall at the same time and all in a split second I am a person who gets “choked up” very easily. So easily that marching bands make me cry. Yes, marching bands! But, I have never had an experience like this one. This young man was gushing joy like an erupting volcano and I just happened to be in the right place at the right time to be in the path of that stunning blessing. His joy welled up in my spirit and flowed back out into the world in the form of my laughter and my tears. I wrote in another blog that I often have tears when I am in the presence of Truth and Beauty. These are simply two words for God. As I laughed and I cried I was aware that I had just seen the face of God. (I am very grateful that I was in the car by myself. I think that I would have frightened any passengers that I might have had.)

I am sure that you have all heard this little poem:

Earth's crammed with heaven,

And every common bush afire with God;

But only he who sees,

takes off his shoes.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

I hope that you will all be aware of the opportunities to take off your shoes today. You won’t regret it.

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13 comments:

Barbara said...

You and I are alike on this response to Truth and Beauty! I dissolve in a puddle sometimes. I welled up reading your post, too. Those lines from Elizabeth Barrett Browning belong on my blog page.

Many more epiphanies to you as Christmas draws near!

The Pollinatrix said...

Oh glorious! I'm taking off my shoes right now. Thank you.

The Pollinatrix said...

Now there's a moment of Beauty! It looks like Barbara and I just posted comments at exactly the same moment!

Sulwyn said...

Thank you for your words today... I've been struggling with my depression and having a hard time finding the blessings today. You really have helped me to readjust my perspective!

Macrina said...

Your words were good for my soul today...joy and sorrow, tears and laughter, burning bushes, passion...I felt it all today when I learned about the death of someone whose family I am close to. But most of all I felt LOVE. LOVE MAKES ME WEEP. Now that I've read your post I am going to go to my room, take off my shoes, put on some music, and dance for David who is on his way to the Holy One and for your dear dancing man. Thanks for sharing.

SUNRISE SISTER said...

I seem to have had a dark day today - something I didn't really recognize until my spouse mentioned it this evening in sort of a "wow, you've had been thinking some dark thoughts today".....yes, I think so yet all the time thinking how blessed how I am. Once more, reading this post, I can laugh and I can cry with you. I kind of have a choice and I choose to do both at this moment. and no, I don't remember reading the Browning quote before - thank you!

xoxox

Rebecca Johnson said...

Polli and Barbara, A burning bush, indeed that you were both posting at the same time. I often think about how we're not really all that far apart. I am grateful that the internet allows that, but it ultimately comes from your spirits. Thank you for sharing them with all of us. Love....

Rebecca Johnson said...

Sulwyn, It is such a hard time of year. Many are feeling sad and many feel angry or disappointed in themselves for feeling sad when everyone is telling them to be joyful. The burning bushes come to us in all forms. In our joys as well as our sorrows and even in despair as long as our hearts remain open. Blessings on your eyes. May you see you burning bushes today. Love...

Rebecca Johnson said...

Macrina, Yes, I must add LOVE to my list. The ultimate name of God. It was such a tender and beautiful vision that I had of you dancing for David in your sorrow and your love. Thanks for being present here.

Also, I am LOVING my calendar! Beautiful photos, beautiful words. A true blessing.

Love....

Rebecca Johnson said...

SS, I truly believe that is a sign of wholeness and holy-ness when we can feel all of our gratitudes and joy and feel what is dark and painful at the same time. It sure sounds as though God was present there. Love....

Nichol said...

I don't have anything wildly interesting to say...i just loved this blog.
thanks for writing it

Beth Knight said...

Rebecca - thank you for taking the time to share the God you see daily in Alaska and its people. Your words continue to bless us! I do believe there is a book in the making in your lifetime!

Tess said...

I'm catching up with all my blog reading and I had to respond to this, both because it's so beautiful and because I had that wonderful experience so often of seeing my brother, who also had Down's syndrome, transported into unselfconscious, transcendent joy by music. Even towards the end of his life as his awareness ebbed, he could still be moved by music.